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AISD to remove cancer-causing coal tar from playgrounds, parking lots

March 7, 2012

Austin Independent School District will begin removing cancer-causing coal tar from its playgrounds and parking lots this summer, thus becoming what is reportedly the first entity in the country to tackle the problem.

While the city banned coal tar sealants in 2006, an estimated 15,000 paved surfaces sealed before that date still are covered with coal tar in amounts depending on the age of the sealant and how much has been washed away. As it ages, the coal tar flakes and crumbles and is blown into the air we breathe, washed into our waterways, and tracked on shoes into homes and cars.

Coal tar sealant contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) known to cause cancer. Studies show that the coal tar is particularly dangerous to children, who play on their hands and knees and put their fingers into their mouth.

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